New excerpt from the forthcoming release PLATONIC
Not counting Marita, who had her own suite on the third floor of the mansion, none of the girls lived at the house. As soon as their identities were verified, customers with appointments at the residence were ushered to a second floor bedroom with the woman they were scheduled to spend time with. So Terri thought it odd that two of the working girls and Cindy the receptionist, who should have been off from work and gone hours ago, were hanging out in the parlor. The girls were Patience—a melon-busted, full-figured redhead, and Ramona—a Puerto Rican chick whose exotic look belied her Bronx roots.
Even weirder was that Mike was sitting in a parlor easy chair reading a comic book. He was supposed to be in the guest house security building watching what was happening on the mansion’s grounds and interior common areas via closed-circuit monitors.
“What’s going on?” Terri asked.
Ramona shook her head and said, “You lucky wench.”
“Why the heck did Lindsay give him to you?” Patience asked. “Can I kill you and take your place? Please?”
“Because Lindsay didn’t know,” Cindy said. “Marita didn’t want his name mentioned on the phone.”
“Who’s name?” Terri snapped, and then turned on Mike. If the Incredible Hulk was Samoan and packed a cannon in a shoulder holster he would be Mike. “Mike, what’s up? How come you’re over here? Who’s watching security?”
Without looking up from his comic book Mike said, “Vonzell’s on the monitors. Marita wanted me in the house in case the paparazzi trailed your boy here.”
“You got Andrew Kent waiting for you upstairs.”
“I hate you Jewel,” Ramona said. “With every breath in my body I hate you.”
On a Friday night six years ago Andrew Kent, a blonde-haired, amber-eyed mathematics major at Harvard, was DJing at a frat party. “Spinning” was Andrew’s hobby. Sometimes just for fun he rapped along with the music he played.
On that night six years ago, while playing one of Jay-Z’s hits, Andrew just happened to be in the mood to add his own freestyle to the song. He interlaced his rhymes in the spaces in Jay-Z’s fractured vocalizations with such skilled timing that it sounded like he was performing a rap duet with the Hip-Hop star.
Someone captured Andrew’s rhyming on their cell phone camcorder. They uploaded the video to YouTube, and it went viral. Six months after the video hit the internet the rapper dubbed as Harvard by his rabid fans had a record deal.
Harvard’s first album went platinum. His second album, released that same year, went gold. And then Harvard vanished from the public eye.
He returned two years later, not rapping but singing. He performed two romantic duets with R&B high priestess Salome. Both songs were included on her album.
The critics raved about the duets. Some went as far as to proclaim them the next Marvin and Tammi, which irritated some black fans. No one could take Marvin’s place, especially some white boy, even if as Salome said, “That boy looks like what would happen if a young Robert Redford and Brad Pitt made a baby.”
Because they sounded so good singing love songs together, rumors flew that Harvard and Salome were a couple. Both denied the rumors, though their denials seemed tinged with winks and smiles.
Then Harvard vanished again.
He reemerged two years later, not in music, but as an actor in the movie Cougars, Inc. The movie tanked at the box office, but Andrew (now using his real name) earned a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role as the heroin-addicted kept man of a wealthy divorcee. Next he was slated to play a man married to an unfaithful woman in The Girl Next Door.
Andrew Kent had the looks. Though a Harvard graduate, his beginnings in Hip-Hop gave him a bad boy edge. He could act, earning an Oscar nomination for his first role. No one doubted that he was Hollywood’s next “It” celebrity. He could have had his pick of star-struck women.
And yet he was a paying guest at Michelle’s mansion.
Terri tugged at the hem of her tube sweater dress and wondered if considering her customer, she should’ve worn something with more pop and sizzle. Well, it was too late now. She took a deep calming breath, tapped on the bedroom door and eased it open.
He was standing across the bedroom with his hands in his pockets, gazing at the night beyond the window. As Terri stepped into the room he turned around.
Oh shit-oh shit-oh shit.
He was taller than she’d imagined, and seemed older, though she knew they were the same age: twenty-five.
Maybe he looked older because rather than the baggy jeans and tee-shirts that were his style when he was a rapper, tonight he wore a tailored suit with an open-collar shirt, and rather than a baseball cap, his trimmed and styled hair looked salon fresh.
He flashed a Hollywood white smile at her and said, “Are you Jewel?”
Terri thought she said yes, but wasn’t sure. She nodded for backup.
“I didn’t know you were going to be so pretty,” he said. His golden eyes seemed to glimmer.
I could say the same about you, Terri thought, and closed the bedroom door.
COMING APRIL 2014